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PC into TV title

With TV streaming services, On Demand content and TV tuners now more popular than ever, have you ever thought about combining all you media into one place by turning your PC into a TV?

Cheap subscriptions to services like Netflix and Amazon prime, On Demand TV from the likes of BBC and C4 and niche online streaming services like Twitch have all contributed to a huge swing in consumer viewing habits.

Many people are now forsaking the scheduled TV lifestyle for On Demand programs, live streaming and specialist content, paving the way for internet enabled TV and entertainment through PCs.

As PC monitors become larger, cheaper and better quality many people are migrating from the traditional TV set up to a multi-use computer. But how do you go about turning a PC into a TV?

 

Internet TViplayer

To start off, the easiest way to get live TV on your PC is to stream directly from the internet. You can do this by simply connecting to a website like the BBC/ITV /Sky (subscription required) or a generic Freeview service and then stream away.

Naturally streaming requires an internet connection that is up to a suitable standard. There have been a lot of arguments as to how fast your bandwidth should be; so as a guide the BBC state “2Mbps of sustained bandwidth for Standard Definition (SD) content” and 3Mbps for HD.

Most of the major TV stations offer this service like the BBC, ITV and C4 but be mindful of geographical restrictions. Paid for services like Sky, Virgin and BT also offer great streaming packages, however a subscription is usually needed to even access Freeview channels.

If you are looking for all the TV channels in one place, you could also use third party website like UKfree.tv or TVcatchup.com. [Ebuyer.com do not condone or support any third party applications.]

 

PC TV Tunerpc tv tuner

If you’re looking for a more permanent hardware fix or don’t have great internet access, a PC TV tuner is great way of getting round dodgy WiFi signal.

PC tuners come in number of different forms but are basically a physical plug-in that allows a cable or portable antenna to be connected to your laptop.

TV tuners are peripherals which can connect via USB or internally via PCI. This gives you the ability to view free, over the air, digital TV.

You can get a few different types of tuner from external units, to internal combined graphics cards or stand-alone cards.  Quality and signal fluctuates massively with different devices, setups, regions and even locations. Internal cards are usually considered better quality, however they do require setup and you sacrifice the portability of a plug-in.

When you’re hooked up, the PC tuner will usually come with some manufactures specific software to install. This will then become the platform for your PC’s TV planner, where you can select and control the channels you watch.

 

Freeview Boxfreeview box pc tv

This one is a simple option for utilizing a bit of old tech you might have lying around the house, the humble Freeview box.

If you find yourself with a spare one of these boxes (or pick them up for about £30), the process of watching Freeview is very easy, as long as you have a free HDMI port.

Simply plug your Freeview into the empty HDMI connector and hook the aerial up to either a portable antenna or the wall mount.

Power up, adjust your setting and find the input, then away you go! Your monitor simply acts as a TV.

You can also find a few miniature Freeview boxes on the market so the unit won’t add too much bulk to your PC rig.

 

Streaming Playersandroid tv roku apple tv

OK, this one is cheating a little as it’s not live TV, but if you find yourself binging on Netflix rather than the BBC, streaming players are a great option for cheap On Demand television.

The market leaders are currently Roku, ChromeCast and Amazon Fire TV. These streaming sticks work in a few different ways. Some like the Roku work as self-contained unit that plugs into the TV. This then runs on its own operating system effectively turning your PC into a smart TV.

The Chromecast on the other hand, is basically a mirroring device. It broadcasts content “cast” from your connected devices like a laptop, tablet or phone. You effectively turn your phone into the media player/remote and beam the video to your monitor

The advantage of this setup is that it feels a lot more like a TV, rather than a computer as you have a remote (or phone) in hand to flick through content.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I am beginning to enjoy these supplements to your advertising. This interested me a lot.

    I have a 42 inch TV linked to a nettop I bought from E buyer.

    I have an all in one which I will now hook up to see how it works and what’s available.

    Keep up the good work. It adds a quality image to ebuyer namely that it is interested in giving information of benefit to the reader aside from selling those things.

    David

  2. This sort of thing seems like a no brain solution. Big TV and small PC, USB dual tuner TV stick. Wireless mouse and keyboard. The technology is now mature enough to cope (writing as a TV media centre user since windows XP, it worked properly by win 7).
    Yet microsoft are dropping thsi completely from Win 10

  3. Alternatively you can go to TVCatchup and a good selection of basic programmes.
    It works for the PC and Mobile
    Phil

  4. Great article as always – although its worth noting that the chromecast is not actually a mirroring device at all – it streams content direct from the internet and your phone or tablet simply acts as a ‘remote’ telling the dongle where to look and what to play. If it were a true mirroring device it would sap your mobiles battery pretty hard – this does not.

  5. Surprised you haven’t mentioned the Now TV box. Currently £20 with 3 months included for a few Sky channels like Sky1 & Atlantic. After the 3 months you can use it as a catch up for all the terrestrial channels & You Tube etc. Its made by Roku so it streams from your Phone Tablet etc.

  6. I believe there is an issue with PC tuners and Windows 10. I have a Hypercentre Kworld external USB PC tuner that worked fine with Windows 7, upgraded to Windows 10 and it crashes the PC. I believe it’s a Windows media player issue.

  7. I used a TV card as part of my pc set up as long as over ten years ago when I realised what a great idea it was. This is old news, but I guess it`s new to some.

  8. My issue with terrestrial TV broadcast are the flood of TV commercials. I have not recorded the amount of time spent watching advertisement but it seem like half of the program is nothing but commercials, and the kicker towards the end of the program there are more and longer commercials. For this reason I am not able to tolerate commercial TV, be it free over the air or over priced cable TV. My only solution is paid commercial free Internet based programing. There was a time when I had a PC tuner card that came with software that could strip the program free of the commercials but after some time its technology failed to clean up the programing. I would love to have local programing but when I realize I have watched 3 hours of TV but no, I have sat here 3 hours and watched a little over an hour of TV, and add in poorly written TV it’s simply not tolerable. Also the commercials are so long at times forget what the hell.I watching. Thanks for allowing me to tranfer some anxiety because my CATV bill was once 200 a mounth. Spending money for nothing, when it could have been used for good is a most sad condition.to find yourself in.

  9. Would a monitor hooked up, via HDMI, to a YouView box (Talktalk) work. That has Freeview and On Demad all in one and if it’s the Plus version can record too I believe. Has anyone tried this combination?

  10. I am awaiting delivery of an Android Media Streaming device… with KODI built in… I hear this is the latest and best way to access on-line content although the Youtube tutorials I have seen so far make it seem quite complicated. I would love an experienced users perspective for someone new like me.

  11. I have a pat under my 42inch plasma. Running win7 media centre with a dual antenna TV card. Works great. Just like sky plus without the cost. Stick on plex and I can stream my tv/movies anywhere.

  12. my name is madhav bhat from mumbai,india.

    i want to convert my tv to smart tv.pl.guide the address of dealer selling the necessary infrastructior with fitting.
    thanking you

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